The first part of the 20th century was marked with two most devastating wars in the world's history. They made a great impact on people’s lives and changed their mindsets forever. Fashion was not an exception. It underwent great shifts, going from one extreme to the other.
Jazz, Cigarettes, and Flappers: the 1920s
World War I ended. Women enjoyed unprecedented freedom they had never possessed before. Epic parties, jazz bands, short “bob” hairstyles, glitz, dresses without waists, and cigarettes between brightly painted lips… So-called flappers scandalized public opinion. The 1920s fashion was provocative, flaunty, and shocking. It denied all the ideals of previous times: femininity, long dresses, smooth curves.
New manufacturing techniques helped to lower the clothes’ prices, so style became affordable to middle-class housewives. It was the period when fashion designers began to play more and more important role in worldwide culture. Designer women’s clothes found the admirers in various social groups.
The 1920s and 1930s fashion was Coco Chanel’s hour of triumph. She introduced what then became known as the “garçonne look,” with its slim and strait lines. Chanel brand, started before World War I, still sustains its popularity today. Her style was revolutionary: her clothes were made to be easy to wear, allowing women to dance freely. Coco was a creator of the iconic little black dress, and her scent Chanel No 5 is unrivaled.
Jeanne Lanvin was another influential haute couture designer of that time. She became one of the first designers who produced four seasons of clothing each year. Her pieces can be easily recognized with the exceptional embroidery, and she had true passion for blue color. It becomes the brand’s symbol as it was prevailing in band’s collections, especially a shade, which is called now “Lanvin blue” after Jeanne.
Formidable fashion designers emerged at this period, and Paris was incredibly attractive for the style and taste influencers: Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jean Patou, and others.
From Austerity to Luxury: the 1940s
The first half of the decade was full of disturbance. The most devastating war in the human history left an everlasting imprint on all the spheres of life. The first half of the 1940s was dedicated to struggle, and fashion was not on focus.
Snappy dressers had to change their habits: hard time of economic constraints and rationing made them forget about luxury and glamour. Utility and function came to the fore. The cut of uniform became the most exploitable. Low- heeled shoes, square-shouldered jackets, nipped-in waists defined the essence of women’s appearance of these years.
But the war ended in 1945. Women got tired of economy and constraints. The creative spirit of that period stimulated Christian Dior to offer “The New Look” in 1947. It was a real breakthrough. Long full skirts, accents on bust, waist and hips, hourglass silhouettes – obvious femininity of these images demonstrated the shift from war austerity and utility.
Other prominent 1940s fashion designers were Vera Maxwell, Tina Leser, Anne Klein – the USA became another important center of fashion industry.
Each of these trends has its own charm and attracts its admirers. They do not disappear with times; they became a source of inspiration for modern creators. Visit women's designer clothing websites, browse the pictures – dresses, coats, accessories, and even women's plus size designer clothes. Could you recognize the influences of the unforgettable 1920s and 1940s?